Botulism natural history, complications and prognosis
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If botulism left untreated it may cause respiratory failure and even death. Common complications of botulism include, respiratory failure, difficult swallowing, speech difficulties, fatigue, and death. Botulism's prognosis depends on the amount of the ingested toxins and prompt treatment.
The symptoms of foodborne botulism often develop few days after ingestion of toxin produced in food by C. botulinum. The most frequent source is home-canned foods, prepared in an unsafe manner. Wound botulism occurs when C. botulinum spores germinate within wounds. Infant botulism occurs when C. botulinum spores germinate and produce toxin in the gastrointestinal tract of infants. If botulism left untreated it may cause respiratory failure and even death.
- Respiratory muscle weakness and impending respiratory failure
- Long-lasting weakness
- Difficult swallowing
- Speech difficulties
- Death from botulism mainly occurs from a few reasons:
The prognosis depends on the type of toxin. The amount of botulinum toxin an individual is exposed to will play a role in the overall prognosis, but early treatment will significantly decrease the chance of death.
There are, in fact, 7 different forms of the toxin. Type A generally causes the most severe form of botulism. An overall mortality rate of approximately 5-10% is suspected for the foodborne form of Botulism. Patients older than 60 years carry a higher risk of mortality than the general population.. The mortality rate of infant botulism is much lower; usually less than 1%.
The recovery period for botulism is fairly long. It ranges from approximately 30 to around 100 days. Sometimes patients need to stay on a ventilator for a long period of time to assist with breathing. There can also be a period of generalized weakness for up to a year after recovery from botulism.
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